BEYOND GOOD AND EVIL
[This document, which has been prepared by Ian Johnston of Vancouver Island University, Nanaimo, BC, has certain copyright restrictions. For information, please consult Copyright. Editorial comments and translations in square brackets and italics are by Ian Johnston; comments in normal brackets are from Nietzsche’s text. Last revised in December 2013]
WHAT IS NOBLE?
Every enhancement in the type “man” up to this point has been the work of an aristocratic society—and that’s how it will always be, over and over again: a society that believes in a long scale of rank ordering and differences in worth between one person and another and that, in some sense or other, requires slavery. Without the pathos of distance, the sort which grows out of the deeply rooted difference between the social classes, out of the constant gazing outward and downward of the ruling caste on the subjects and work implements, and out of their equally sustained practice of obedience and command, holding down and holding at a distance, that other more mysterious pathos would have no chance of growing at all, that longing for an ever new widening of distances inside the soul itself, the development of ever higher, rarer, more distant, more expansive, more comprehensive states, in short, simply the enhancement in the type “man,” the constant “self-surmounting of man,” to cite a moral formula in a supra-moral sense. Of course, where the history of the origins of aristocratic society is concerned (and thus the precondition for that raising of the type “man”—), we should not surrender to humanitarian illusions: truth is hard. So without further consideration, let’s admit to ourselves how up to this point every higher culture on earth has started! People with a still natural nature, barbarians in every dreadful sense of the word, predatory men still in possession of an unbroken power of the will and a desire for power, threw themselves on weaker, more civilized, more peaceful, perhaps trading or cattle-raising races, or on old, worn cultures, in which at that very moment the final forces of life were flickering out in a dazzling fireworks display of spirit and corruption. At the start the noble caste has always been the barbarian caste: its superiority has lain not primarily in physical might but in spiritual power—it has been a matter of more complete human beings (which at every level also means “more complete beasts”).
Corruption as the expression of the fact that within the instincts anarchy is threatening and that the foundation of the affects, what we call “life,” has been shaken: according to the living structure in which it appears, corruption is something fundamentally different. When, for example, an aristocracy, like that in France at the start of the Revolution, throws away its privileges with a sublime disgust and sacrifices itself to a dissipation of its moral feelings, this is corruption:—essentially it was only the final act in that centuries-long corruption, thanks to which the aristocracy step-by-step gave up its ruling authority and reduced itself to a function of the monarchy (finally even to the monarch’s finery and display pieces). The essential thing in a good and healthy aristocracy, however, is that it feels itself not as a function (whether of a monarchy or of a community) but as its significance and highest justification—that it therefore with good conscience accepts the sacrifice of an enormous number of people, who for its sake must be oppressed and reduced to incomplete men, to slaves and instruments of work. Its fundamental belief must, in fact, be that the society should exist, not for the sake of the society, but only as a base and framework on which an exceptional kind of nature can raise itself to its higher function and, in general, to a higher form of being, comparable to those heliotropic climbing plants on Java—people call them sipo matador—whose tendrils clutch an oak tree so much and for so long until finally, high over the tree but supported by it, they can unfold their crowns in the open light and make a display of their happiness.—
Mutually refraining from wounding each other, from violence, and from exploitation, and setting one’s will on the same level as others—these can in a certain crude sense become good habits among individuals, if conditions exist for that (namely, a real similarity in the quality of their power and their estimates of value, as well as their belonging together within a single body). However, as soon as people wanted to take this principle further and, where possible, establish it as the basic principle of society, it would immediately show itself for what it is, as the willed denial of life, as the principle of disintegration and decay. Here we must think through to the fundamentals and push away all sentimental weakness: living itself is essentially appropriation from and wounding and overpowering strangers and weaker people, oppression, hardness, imposing one’s own forms, annexing, and at the very least, in its mildest actions, exploitation—but why should we always use these precise words, which have from ancient times carried the stamp of a slanderous purpose? Even that body in which, as previously mentioned, individuals deal with each other as equals—and that happens in every healthy aristocracy—must itself, if it is a living body and not dying out, do to other bodies all those things which the individuals in it refrain from doing to each other: it will have to be the living will to power, it will seek to grow, grab things around it, pull to itself, and acquire predominance—not because of some morality or immorality, but because it is alive and because living is simply the will to power. But in no point is the common consciousness of the European more reluctant to be instructed than here. Nowadays people everywhere, even those in scientific disguises, are raving about the coming conditions of society from which “the exploitative character” is to have disappeared:—to my ears that sounds as if people had promised to invent a life which abstained from all organic functions. The “exploitation” is not part of a depraved or incomplete and primitive society: it belongs to the essential nature of what is living, as a basic organic function; it is a consequence of the real will to power, which is simply the will to life.—Assuming that this is something new as a theory—it is, nonetheless, in reality the fundamental fact of all history: we should at least be honest with ourselves to this extent!
As the result of a stroll though the many more sophisticated and cruder moral systems which up to this point have ruled or still rule on earth, I found certain characteristics routinely return with each other, bound up together, until finally two basic types revealed themselves to me and a fundamental difference sprang up. There is master morality, and there is slave morality—to this I immediately add that in all higher and more mixed cultures attempts at a mediation between both moralities make an appearance as well, even more often, a confusion and mutual misunderstanding between the two, in fact, sometimes their close juxtaposition—even in the same person, within a single soul. Distinctions in moral value have arisen either among a ruling group which was happily conscious of its difference with respect to the ruled—or among the ruled, the slaves and dependent people of every degree. In the first case, when it’s the masters who establish the idea of the “good,” the elevated and proud conditions of the soul emotionally register as the distinguishing and defining order of rank. The noble man separates his own nature from that of people in whom the opposite of such exalted and proud states expresses itself. He despises them. We should notice at once that in this first kind of morality the opposites “good” and “bad” mean no more than “noble” and “despicable”—the opposition between “good” and “evil” has another origin. The despised one is the coward, the anxious, the small, the man who thinks about narrow utility, also the suspicious man with his inhibited look, the self-abasing man, the species of human dogs who allow themselves to be mistreated, the begging flatterer, and, above all, the liar:—it is a basic belief of all aristocrats that the common folk are liars. “We tellers of the truth”—that’s what the nobility called itself in ancient Greece. It’s evident that distinctions of moral worth everywhere were first applied to men and then later, by extension, were established for actions; hence, it is a serious mistake when historians of morality take as a starting point questions like “Why was the compassionate action praised?” The noble kind of man experiences himself as a person who determines value and who does not need other people’s approval. He makes the judgment “What is harmful to me is harmful in itself.” He understands himself as something which in general first confers honour on things, as something which creates values. Whatever he recognizes in himself he honours. Such a morality is self-glorification. In the foreground stands the feeling of fullness, the power which wants to overflow, the happiness of high tension, the consciousness of riches which wants to give presents and provide:—the noble man also helps the unfortunate, however not, or hardly ever, from pity, but more in response to an impulse which the excess of power produces. The noble person honours the powerful man in himself and also the man who has power over himself, who understands how to speak and how to keep silent, who takes delight in dealing with himself severely and toughly, and who respects, above all, severity and toughness. “Wotan set a hard heart in my breast,” it says in an old Scandinavian saga: that’s poetry emerging from the soul of a proud Viking—and justifiably so. A man of this sort is simply proud of the fact that he has not been made for pity. That’s why the hero of the saga adds a warning, “In a man whose heart is not hard when he is still young it will never become hard.” Noble and brave men who think this way are furthest removed from that morality which sees the badge of morality specifically in pity or in actions for others or in désintéressement [disinterestedness]. The belief in oneself, pride in oneself, a fundamental hostility and irony against “selflessness” belong to noble morality, just as much as an easy contempt and caution before feelings of pity and the “warm heart.” Powerful men are the ones who understand how to honour; that is their art, their realm of invention. The profound reverence for age and for ancestral tradition—all justice stands on this double reverence—the belief and the prejudice favouring forefathers and working against newcomers are typical in the morality of the powerful, and when, by contrast, the men of “modern ideas” believe almost instinctively in “progress” and the “future” and increasingly lack any respect for age, then in that attitude the ignoble origin of these “ideas” already reveals itself well enough. However, a morality of the rulers is most alien and embarrassing to present taste because of the severity of its basic principle that man has duties only with respect to those like him, that man should act towards those beings of lower rank, towards everything foreign, at his own discretion, or “as his heart dictates,” and, in any case, “beyond good and evil.” Here pity and things like that may belong. The capacity for and obligation to a long gratitude and a long revenge—both only within the circle of one’s peers—the sophistication in paying back again, the refined idea in friendship, a certain necessity to have enemies (as, so to speak, drainage ditches for the feelings of envy, quarrelsomeness, and high spirits—basically in order to be capable of being a good friend): all those are typical characteristics of a noble morality, which, as indicated, is not the morality of “modern ideas” and which is thus nowadays difficult to sympathize with, as well as difficult to dig up and expose. Things are different with the second type of moral system, slave morality. Suppose the oppressed, depressed, suffering and unfree people, those ignorant of themselves and tired out, suppose they moralize: what will be the common feature of their moral estimates of value? Probably a pessimistic suspicion directed at the entire human situation will express itself, perhaps a condemnation of man, along with his situation. The gaze of a slave is not well disposed towards the virtues of the powerful; he possesses scepticism and mistrust; he has a subtlety of mistrust of everything “good” that is honoured in those virtues—he would like to persuade himself that even happiness is not genuine there. By contrast, those characteristics will be pulled forward and flooded with light which serve to mitigate existence for those who suffer: here respect is given to pity, to the obliging hand ready to help, to the warm heart, to patience, diligence, humility, and friendliness—for these are here the most useful characteristics and almost the only means to endure the pressure of existence. Slave morality is essentially a morality of utility. Here is the focus for the origin of that famous opposition of “good” and “evil”:—people sense power and danger within evil, a certain terror, subtlety, and strength that does not permit contempt to spring up. According to slave morality, the “evil” man thus inspires fear; according to master morality, it is precisely the “good” man who inspires and desires to inspire fear, while the “bad” man is felt as despicable. This opposition reaches its peak when, in accordance with the consequences of slave morality, finally a trace of disregard is also attached to the “good” of this morality—it may be light and benevolent—because within the way of thinking of the slave the good person must definitely be the harmless person: he is good natured, easy to deceive, perhaps a bit stupid, un bonhomme [a good fellow]. Wherever slave morality gains predominance the language reveals a tendency to bring the words “good” and “stupid” into closer proximity. A final basic difference: the longing for freedom, the instinct for happiness, and the refinements of the feeling for freedom belong just as necessarily to slave morality and morals as art and enthusiasm in reverence and in devotion are the regular symptoms of an aristocratic way of thinking and valuing. From this we can without further ado understand why love as passion—which is our European specialty—must clearly have a noble origin: as is well known, its invention belongs to the Provencal knightly poets, those splendidly inventive men of the “gay saber” [gay science] to whom Europe owes so much—almost its very self.
Vanity is among the things that are perhaps hardest for a noble man to understand: he will be tempted even to deny its existence where another kind of man thinks he has grasped it with both hands. For him the problem is imagining to himself beings who seek to elicit a good opinion of themselves which they themselves do not possess—and which, as a result, they also have not “earned”—people who, nonetheless, themselves later believe in this good opinion. Half of this seems to the noble man so tasteless and disrespectful of oneself and the other half so unreasonably baroque, that he would be happy to understand vanity as an exception and has doubts about it in most cases when people talk of it. For example, he’ll say: “I can make a mistake about my own value and yet on the other hand still demand that my value, precisely as I determine it, is recognized by others—that, however, is not vanity (but arrogance or, in the more frequent cases, something called “humility” and “modesty”). Or again, “For many reasons I can take pleasure in the good opinion of others, perhaps because I honour and love them and enjoy all of their pleasures, perhaps also because their good opinion underscores and strengthens the faith I have in my own good opinion of myself, or perhaps because the good opinion of others, even in cases where I do not share it, is still useful to me or promises to be useful—but all that is not vanity.” The noble man must first compel himself, particularly with the help of history, to see that since time immemorial, in all the levels of people dependent in some way or other, the common man was only what people thought of him:—not being at all accustomed to set values himself, he measured even himself by no value other than by how his masters assessed him (that is the essential right of masters, to create values). We should understand that, as the consequence of an immense atavism, the common man even today still always waits first for an opinion about himself and then instinctively submits himself to it: however, that is by no means merely to a “good” opinion, but also to a bad and unreasonable one (think, for example, of the greatest part of the self-assessment and self-devaluing which devout women learn from their father confessors and the devout Christian in general learns from his church). Now, in accordance with the slow arrival of the democratic order of things (and its cause, the blood mixing between masters and slaves), the originally noble and rare impulse to ascribe to oneself a value on one’s own and “to think well” of oneself will really become more and more encouraged and widespread. But in every moment it has working against it an older, more extensive, and more deeply incorporated tendency—and where the phenomenon of “vanity” is concerned, this older tendency becomes master over the more recent one. The vain person takes pleasure in every good opinion which he hears about himself (quite apart from all considerations of its utility and equally apart from its truth or falsity), just as he suffers from every bad opinion. For he submits to both; he feels himself subjected to them on the basis of that oldest of instincts for submission which breaks out in him. It is “the slave” in the blood of the vain man, a trace of the slave’s roguishness—and how much of the “slave” still remains nowadays in woman, for example!—that tries to tempt him into good opinions of himself; in the same way it’s the slave who later prostrates himself immediately in front of these opinions, as if he had not summoned them up. —To state the matter once again: vanity is an atavism.
A species arises, a type becomes established and strong, under the long struggle with essentially unchanging, unfavourable conditions. By contrast, we know from the experience of breeders that species which receive an ultra-abundant nourishment and, in general, an increase in protection and care immediately tend towards variety in the type in the strongest manner and are rich in wonders and monstrosities (as well as monstrous vices). Now, let’s look at an aristocratic commonwealth—for example, an ancient Greek polis [city state] or Venice—as an organization, whether voluntary or involuntary, for the purpose of breeding. There are men there living together who rely upon one another and who want their species to succeed mainly because it has to succeed or run the fearful risk of being annihilated. Here there is a lack of that advantage, that excess, that protection under which variations are encouraged. The species senses the need for itself as a species, as something which, particularly thanks to its hardness, uniformity, and simplicity of form, can generally succeed and enable itself to keep going in the constant struggles with neighbours or with the rebellious oppressed people or with those who threaten rebellion. The most varied experience teaches them which characteristics they have to thank, above all, for the fact that they are still there, in spite of all the gods and men, that they have always been victorious up to this point. These characteristics they call virtues, and they cultivate only these virtues to any great extent. They do that with severity—in fact, they desire severity. Every aristocratic morality is intolerant in its education of the young, its provisions for women, its marriage customs, its relationships between young and old, and its penal laws (which fix their eyes only on those who are deviants)—it reckons intolerance itself among the virtues, under the name “justice.” A type with few but very strong characteristics, a species of strict, warlike, shrewdly laconic people, close-knit and reserved (and, as such, having the most sophisticated feelings for the charm and nuances of society) in this way establishes itself over and above the changes in the generations. The constant struggle with unvarying, unfavourable conditions is, as mentioned, the factor that makes a type fixed and hard. Finally, however, at some point a fortunate time arises, which lets the immense tension ease. Perhaps there are no more enemies among the neighbours, and the means for living, even for enjoying life, are there in abundance. With one blow the bond and the compulsion of the old discipline are torn apart: that discipline no longer registers as necessary, as a condition of existence—if it wished to remain in existence, it could do so only as a form of luxury, as an archaic taste. Variation, whether as something abnormal (something higher, finer, and rarer) or as degeneration and monstrosity, suddenly bursts onto the scene in the greatest abundance and splendour; the individual dares to be individual and stand apart. At these historical turning points there appear alongside each other and often involved and mixed up together marvellous, multifaceted, jungle-like growths, an upward soaring, a kind of tropical tempo in competitiveness for growing and an immense annihilation and self-destruction, thanks to the wild egoisms turned against each other and, as it were, exploding, which wrestle with one another “for sun and light” and no longer know how to derive any limit, any restraint, or any consideration from the morality they have had up to that point. This very morality was the one which built up such immense power, which bent the bow in such a threatening manner—now, at this moment, it is and is becoming “outdated.” The dangerous and disturbing point is reached where the greater, more multifaceted, and more comprehensive life lives beyond the old morality; the “individual” stands there, forced to give himself his own laws, his own arts and tricks for self-preservation, self-raising, and self-redemption. Nothing but new what-for’s, nothing but new how-to’s, no common formulas any more, misunderstanding and contempt bound up together, decay, spoilage, and the highest desires tied together in a ghastly way, the genius of the race brimming over from all the horns of plenty with good and bad, an ominous simultaneous presence of spring and autumn, full of new charms and veils, characteristic of young, still unexhausted, still unwearied depravity. Once again there’s danger there, the mother of morality, great danger, this time transferred into the individual, into one’s neighbour and friend, into the alleyways, into one’s own child, into one’s own heart, into all the narrowest and most secret parts of one’s wishes and desires. What will the moral philosophers who emerge at such a time now have to preach? They discover, these keen observers and street loafers, that things are quickly coming to an end, that everything around them is going rotten and spreading corruption, that nothing lasts until the day after tomorrow, except for one kind of person, the incurably mediocre. Only the mediocre have the prospect of succeeding, of reproducing themselves—they are the people of the future, the only survivors, “Be like them! Become mediocre!”—from now on that’s the only morality that still makes sense, that people still hear.—But it is difficult to preach, this morality of mediocrity!—it may never admit what it is and what it wants! It must speak about restraint and worth and duty and love of one’s neighbour—it will have difficulty concealing its irony!
There is an instinct for rank which, more than anything, is already an indication of a high rank. There is a delight in the nuances of respect which permits us to surmise a noble origin and habits. The refinement, goodness, and loftiness of a soul are put to a dangerous test when something goes past in front of it which is of the first rank, but which is not yet protected by the fear of authority from prying clutches and crudities: something that goes its way unmarked, undiscovered, tentative, perhaps arbitrarily disguised and hidden, like a living touchstone. The man whose task and practice is to investigate souls will use precisely this art in a number of different forms in order to establish the ultimate value of a soul, the unalterable innate order of rank to which it belongs: he will put it to the test for its instinct of reverence. Différence engendre haine [Difference engenders hatred]: the nastiness of some natures suddenly spurts out like dirty water when some sacred container, some precious object from a locked shrine, or some book with marks of a great destiny is carried by. On the other hand, there is an involuntary falling silent, a hesitation in the eye, an end to all gestures, things which express that a soul feels close to something most worthy of reverence. The way in which reverence for the Bible in Europe has, on the whole, been maintained so far is perhaps the best piece of discipline and refinement of habits for which Europe owes a debt of thanks to Christianity: such books of profundity and ultimate significance need for their protection an externally imposed tyranny of authority in order to last for those thousands of years necessary to exhaust them and sort out what they mean. Much has been achieved when in the great mass of people (the shallow ones and all sorts of people with diarrhoea) the feeling has finally been cultivated that they are not permitted to touch everything, that there are sacred experiences before which they have to pull off their shoes and which they must keep their dirty hands off—this is almost the highest intensification of their humanity. By contrast, perhaps nothing makes the so-called educated people, those who have faith in “modern ideas,” so nauseating as their lack of shame, the comfortable impudence in their eyes and hands, with which they touch, lick, and grope everything, and it is possible that these days among a people, one still finds in the common folk, particularly among the peasants, more relative nobility of taste and tactful reverence than among the newspaper-reading demi-monde of the spirit, among the educated.
One cannot erase from a human being’s soul those actions which his ancestors loved most and carried out most steadfastly: whether they were, for example, industrious savers attached to a writing table and money box, modest and bourgeois in their desires, as well as modest in their virtues, or whether they were accustomed to live giving orders from morning until night, fond of harsh entertainment and, along with that, perhaps of even harsher duties and responsibilities; or whether, finally, they had at some time or other once sacrificed the old privileges of their birth and possessions in order to live entirely for their faith—for their “god”—as men of an unrelenting and delicate conscience, which blushes when confronted with any compromise. It is in no way possible that a man does not possess in his body the characteristics and preferences of his parents and forefathers, no matter what appearance might say to the contrary. This is the problem of race. If we know something about the parents, then we may draw a conclusion about the child: some unpleasant excess or other, some lurking envy, a crude habit of self-justification—these three together have at all times made up the essential type of the rabble—something like that must be passed onto the child as surely as corrupt blood, and with the help of the best education and culture people will succeed only in deceiving others about such heredity. And nowadays what else do education and culture want! In our age, one very much of the people—I mean to say our uncouth age—“education” and “culture” must basically be the art of deception—to mislead about the origin of the inherited rabble in one’s body and soul. Today an educator who preached truthfulness above everything else and constantly shouted at his students “Be true! Be natural! Act as you really are!”—even such a virtuous and true-hearted jackass would after some time learn to take hold of that furca [pitchfork] of Horace, in order to naturam expellere [drive out nature]. With what success? “Rabble” usque recurret [will always return].1
At the risk of annoying innocent ears, I propose the following: egoism belongs to the nature of the noble soul; I mean that unshakeable faith that to a being such as “we are” other beings must be subordinate by nature and have to sacrifice themselves. The noble soul takes this fact of its egoism without any question mark and without the feeling that there is anything harsh, compelled, or arbitrary in it, much more as something that may be established in the fundamental law of things. If he sought out a name for this, he would say “It is justice itself.” In some circumstances which make him hesitate at first, he admits that there are those with rights equal to his own. As soon as he has cleared up this question of rank, he moves among these equals who have the same rights as his with the same confident modesty and sophisticated reverence which he has in his dealings with himself—in accordance with an inborn heavenly mechanism which all the stars understand. It is one more part of his egoism, this sophistication and self-restraint in his relations with his equals—every star is such an egoist—: his soul honours itself in them and in the rights which it concedes to them. It has no doubt that the exchange of respect and rights, as the essential quality of all interactions, also belongs to the natural condition of things. The noble soul gives as it takes, out of the passionate and sensitive instinct for repayment, which lies deep within it. The idea “favour” has no sense and agreeable fragrance inter pares [among equals]; there may be a sublime manner of allowing presents from above to wash over one, as it were, and of drinking them up thirstily like water drops, but for these arts and gestures the noble soul has no skill. Here its egoism hinders it: in general, it is not happy to look “up above”—instead it looks either directly forward, horizontally and slowly, or down—it knows that it is on a height.
“We can only truly respect highly the man who is not seeking himself” Goethe to Councillor Schlosser.
There is a saying among the Chinese that mothers even teach their children: siao-sin, “Make your heart small!” This is the essential and basic tendency of late civilizations: I have no doubt that an ancient Greek would at once recognize this self-diminution in us contemporary Europeans as well—and for that reason alone we would already go “against his taste.”
Ultimately, what does it mean to be ignoble?—Words are sound signals for ideas, but ideas are more or less firm image signs for sensations which return frequently and occur together, for groups of sensations. To understand each other, it is not yet sufficient that people use the same words; they must also use the same words for the same form of inner experiences; in the end they must hold their experience in common with each other. That’s why human beings belonging to a single people understand each other better among themselves than associations of different peoples, even when they use the same language; or rather, when human beings have lived together for a long time under similar conditions (climate, soil, danger, needs, work), then something arises out of that which “understands itself”—a people. In all souls, a similar number of frequently repeating experiences have won the upper hand over those which come more rarely; people understand each other on the basis of the former quickly and with ever-increasing speed—the history of language is the history of a process of abbreviation, and on the basis of this rapid understanding, people bind with one another, closely and with ever-increasing closeness. The greater the danger, the greater the need quickly and easily to come to agreement over what needs to be done; not to misunderstand each other when in danger is what people simply cannot do without in their interactions. With every friendship or love affair people still make this test: nothing of that sort lasts as soon as people reach the point where, with the same words, one of the two feels, means, senses, wishes, or fears something different from the other one. (The fear of the “eternal misunderstanding”: that is the benevolent genius which so often prevents people of different sexes from over-hasty unions, to which their senses and hearts urge them—and not some Schopenhauerish “genius of the species”!—). Which groups of sensations within the soul wake up most rapidly, seize the word, give the order—that decides about the whole rank ordering of its values, that finally determines its tables of goods. The assessments of value in a man reveal something about the structure of his soul and where it looks for its conditions of life, its essential needs. Now, assume that need has always brought together only such people as could indicate with similar signs similar requirements and similar experiences, then it generally turns out that the easy ability to communicate need, that is, in the last analysis, familiarity with only average and common experiences, must have been the most powerful of all the forces which have so far determined things among human beings. People who are more similar and more ordinary have been and always are at an advantage; the more exceptional, more refined, rarer, and more difficult to understand easily remain isolated; in their isolation they are subject to accidents and rarely propagate themselves. People have to summon up huge counter-forces to check this natural, all-too-natural progressus in simile [advance into similarity], the further development of human beings into what’s similar, ordinary, average, herd-like—into what’s common.
The more a psychologist—a born and inevitable psychologist and diviner of the soul—turns himself towards exceptional examples and human beings, the greater the danger to him of suffocation from pity. He has to be hard and cheerful, more so than another man. For the corruption and destruction of loftier men, of the stranger type of soul, is the rule: it is terrible to have such a rule always before one’s eyes. The multifaceted torment of the psychologist who has uncovered this destructiveness, who once discovers and then almost always rediscovers throughout all history this entire inner “hopelessness” of the loftier people, this eternal “too late!” in every sense—this torment can perhaps one day become the reason he turns with bitterness against his own lot, attempts self-destruction—and “corrupts” himself. With almost every psychologist we will see a revealing inclination for and delight in associating with ordinary and well-adjusted people: that indicates that he always needs healing, that he requires some sort of refuge and forgetting, far from what his insights and incisions, his “trade,” have laid on his conscience. Fear of his memory is characteristic of him. He is easily reduced to silence before the judgments of others; he listens with an unmoving face as people revere, admire, love, and transfigure where he has seen, or he even hides his silence, while he expressly agrees with some foreground point of view or other. Perhaps the paradox of his situation gets so terrible that precisely where he has learned great pity as well as great contempt, the crowd, the educated, and the enthusiasts have for their part learned great admiration—the admiration for “great men” and miraculous animals for whose sake people bless and honour the fatherland, the earth, the value of humanity, and themselves, those to whom they draw the attention of the young and whom they use as role models in their education . . . And who knows whether in all great examples up to this point the very same thing has not happened: the crowd worshipped a god—and the “god” was only a poor sacrificial animal! Success has always been the greatest liar, and the “work” itself a success; the great statesman, the conqueror, or the discoverer is disguised in his creation to the point where he is unrecognizable; the “work” of the artist and of the philosopher first invents the man who has created it or is supposed to have created it; the “great men,” as they are honoured, are small inferior works of fiction written later; in the world of historical values counterfeit is king. These great poets, for example, this Byron, Musset, Poe, Leopardi, Kleist, Gogol2—as they now are and perhaps had to be: men of the moment, enthusiastic, sensuous, childish, careless and sudden with trust and mistrust; with souls in which some fracture or other normally has to be concealed; often taking revenge in their works for an inner slur, often seeking with their flights upward to forget some all-too-true memory, often lost in the mud and almost infatuated, until they become like will o’ the wisps around a swamp and pretend that they are stars—then the populace may well call them idealists—often struggling against a long disgust, with a recurring ghost of unbelief which makes them cold and forces them to yearn for gloria [glory] and to feed on “inherent faith” from the hands of intoxicated flatterers—what torture are these great artists and the loftier human beings in general for the man who has once guessed who they are! It is thus understandable that they should so readily experience from woman—who is clairvoyant in the world of suffering and who unfortunately also seeks to help and to save far beyond her powers—those eruptions of unlimited and most devoted pity which the crowd, above all the worshipping masses, does not understand and which it overwhelms with curious and complacent interpretations. This pity regularly deceives itself about its power; woman may believe that love can do everything—that’s a belief essential to her. Alas, anyone who knows about the heart can guess how poor, stupid, helpless, presumptuous, mistaken, more easily destructive than saving even the best and deepest love is! It is possible that beneath the sacred story and charade of the life of Jesus there lies hidden one of the most painful examples of the martyrdom of knowledge about love: the martyrdom of the most innocent and most desiring heart, which was never satisfied with any human love, which demanded love, to be loved and nothing else, with hardness, with madness, with fearful outbreaks against those who denied him love; the history of a poor man unsatisfied and insatiable with love, who had to invent hell in order to send there those who did not wish to love him—and who finally, having grown to understand human love, had to invent a God who is entirely love, who is entirely capable of love—who takes pity on human love because it is so pathetic, so unknowing! Anyone who feels this way, who knows about love in this way—seeks death.—But why dwell on such painful things? Assuming we don’t have to.—
The spiritual arrogance and disgust of every man who has suffered deeply—how profoundly men can suffer almost determines their order of rank—his chilling certainty, with which he is thoroughly soaked and coloured, that thanks to his suffering he knows more than the cleverest and wisest can know, that he has experienced and at some point been “at home” in many terrible far-off worlds, about which “you know nothing!” . . . this spiritual and silent arrogance of the sufferer, this pride of the one chosen to know, of the “initiate,” of the one who has almost been sacrificed, finds all kinds of disguise necessary to protect itself from contact with prying and compassionate hands and, in general, from everything which is not its equal in pain. Profound suffering ennobles; it separates. One of the most sophisticated forms of disguise is Epicureanism and a certain continuing courageousness in taste adopted as a show, which takes suffering lightly and resists everything sad and deep. There are “cheerful men” who use cheerfulness because it makes them misunderstood—they want to be misunderstood. There are “scientific people” who use science because that provides a cheerful appearance and because being scientific enables one to infer that the person is superficial—they want to seduce people to a false conclusion. There are free, impudent spirits who would like to hide and deny that they are broken, proud, incurable hearts; and now and then even foolishness is a mask for a disastrous, all-too-certain knowledge.3 Hence, it follows that it’s part of a more sophisticated humanity to have reverence “for the mask” and not to pursue psychology and curiosity in the wrong place.
What most profoundly divides two men is a different sense and degree of cleanliness. What help is all honesty and mutual utility, what help is all the good will for each other: in the end the fact remains—they “cannot bear to smell each other!” The highest instinct for cleanliness puts the person marked by it in the strangest and most dangerous isolation, like a saint: for that’s simply what saintliness is—the highest spiritualization of the instinct in question. Any awareness of an indescribable abundance of pleasure in the bath, any lust and thirst which constantly drives the soul out of the night into the morning and out of cloudiness, the “affliction,” into what is bright, gleaming, profound, and subtle; just as such a tendency singles out—it is a noble tendency—so it also separates. The pity of the saint is pity for the dirt of those who are human, all-too-human. And there are degrees and heights where the saint feels pity itself as contamination, as dirt . . .
Signs of nobility: never thinking of reducing our duties to duties for everyone; not wanting to give up one’s own responsibility, not wanting to share it; to include our privileges and acting on them among one’s duties.
A person who strives for something great looks at everyone he meets along his way either as a means or as a delay and an obstacle—or as a temporary place to rest. His characteristic high-quality goodness towards his fellow men is first possible when he has reached his height and governs. His impatience and his awareness that until that point he is always sentenced to comedy—for even war is a comedy and conceals, just as every means hides the end—corrupt all contacts for him: this kind of man knows loneliness and what is most poisonous in it.
The problem of those who wait.—For a higher man in whom the solution to a problem lies asleep, strokes of luck and all sorts of unpredictable things are necessary for him to swing into action at just the right time—“for an eruption,” as we could say. Ordinarily it does not happen, and in all the corners of the earth people sit waiting, who hardly know to what extent they are waiting, but even less that they are waiting in vain. From time to time the call to wake up, that chance which provides “permission” for action, comes too late—at a time when their best youth and power for action have already been used up in sitting still. And many a man, in the very moment he “sprang up,” has found to his horror that his limbs have gone to sleep and his spirit is already too heavy! “It is too late,” he has said to himself, having lost faith in himself, and is now forever useless. —In the realm of genius, could “Raphael without hands,” taking that phrase in the widest sense, perhaps not be the exception but the rule?4—Genius is perhaps not really so rare, but rather the five hundred hands needed to tyrannize the kairos, “the right time,” to seize chance by the forelock!5
Anyone who does not want to see the height of a man looks all the more keenly at what is low and in his foreground—and in the process gives himself away.
With all kinds of injury and loss the lower and cruder soul is better off than the more noble one: the dangers for the latter must be greater; the probability that it will go wrong and die is even immense, given the multifaceted nature of its living conditions.—With a lizard a finger which has been lost grows back: not so with a man.
Bad enough! The old story again! When we have finished building our house, we suddenly notice that in the process we have learned something that we simply had to know before we started to build. The eternally tiresome “Too late!”—The melancholy of everything finished! . . .
Wanderer, who are you? I see you going on your way, without scorn, without love, with unfathomable eyes, damp and sad, like a lead sinker which has come back unsatisfied from every depth into the light—what was it looking for down there?—with a breast which does not sigh, with a lip which hides its disgust, with a hand which grasps only slowly: Who are you? What have you been doing? Have a rest here: this place is hospitable to everyone—relax! And whoever you happen to be, what would you like now? What do you need to recuperate? Just name it: what I have I’ll offer you! “For relaxation? For recuperation? O you inquisitive man, what are you talking about! But give me, I beg . . .” What? What? Say it!—“One more mask! A second mask!” . . . .
Men of profound sorrow betray themselves when they are happy: they have a way of grabbing happiness as if they would like to overwhelm and strangle it from jealousy—alas, they know too well that it is running away from them!
“Bad! Bad! What? Is he not going—back?”—Yes! But you understand him badly if you complain about it. He’s going back, as every man does who wants to make a huge jump.—
“Will people believe it of me? But I demand that people believe it of me: I have always thought only badly of myself and about myself, only in very rare cases, only when under compulsion, always without delight ‘for the subject,’ ready to wander off from ‘myself,’ always without faith in the conclusion, thanks to the uncontrollable mistrust of the possibility of self-knowledge, which has taken me so far that I find even the idea of ‘immediate knowledge,’ which the theoreticians allow themselves, a contradictio in adjecto [contradiction in terms]: this entire fact is almost the surest thing I know about myself. Within me there must be some kind of aversion to believing anything definite about myself. Is a riddle perhaps hidden in that? Probably, but fortunately nothing for my own teeth. Perhaps it reveals the species to which I belong?—But not to me: and that’s enough to satisfy me.
“But what has happened to you?”—”I don’t know,” he said, hesitating; “perhaps the Harpies have flown over my table.”6 Occasionally nowadays it happens that a mild, moderate, reserved man suddenly becomes violent, smashes plates, throws over the table, screams, stomps around, slanders the entire world—and finally turns aside, ashamed, furious with himself.—Where? What for? To starve off on his own? To suffocate on his memory? Anyone who has the desires of a lofty, discriminating soul and only rarely finds his table set and his nourishment ready will at all times be in great danger: but today the danger is extraordinary. Thrown into a noisy and uncouth age, with which he does not want to eat out of the same dish, he can easily perish from hunger and thirst, or, if he finally nonetheless “helps himself,”—from sudden disgust.—All of us have probably already sat at tables where we did not belong; and it’s precisely the most spiritual ones among us who are the most difficult to feed, who know that dangerous dyspepsia which comes from a sudden insight and disappointment about our food and those sitting next to us at the table—the after-dinner disgust.
Assuming that one wants to praise at all, there’s a refined and at the same time noble self-control that always gives praise only where one does not agree:—in other cases one would really be praising oneself, something that contradicts good taste—naturally, a self-control which provides a good opportunity and provocation for one to be constantly misunderstood. In order to permit oneself this true luxury of taste and morality, one must not live among spiritual fools, but rather among people whose misunderstandings and false ideas are still amusing for their sophistication—or one will have to pay dearly for it!—“He is praising me: thus, he admits I’m right”—this asinine way of making conclusions ruins half of life for us hermits, for it brings the asses into our neighbourhood and friendship.
To live with an immense and proud composure: always beyond.—To have and not have one’s feelings, one’s for and against, voluntarily, to condescend to them for hours, to sit on them, as if on a horse, often as if on a donkey:—for one needs to know how to use their stupidity as well as their fire. To preserve one’s three hundred foregrounds and one’s dark glasses: for there are occasions when no one should be allowed to look into our eyes, even less into our “reasons.” And to select for company that mischievous and cheerful vice, courtesy. And to remain master of one’s four virtues: courage, insight, sympathy, and solitude. For solitude is a virtue with us, as a sublime tendency and impulse for cleanliness, which senses how contact between one person and another—“in society”—must inevitably bring impurity with it. Every community somehow, somewhere, sometime makes people—“common.”
The greatest events and ideas—but the greatest ideas are the greatest events—are understood last of all: the generations contemporary with them do not experience such events—they go on living past them. What happens then is something like in the realm of the stars. The light of the most distant stars comes to men last of all: and before that light arrives, men deny that there are stars there. “How many centuries does a spirit need in order to be understood?”—that is also a standard with which people construct a rank ordering and etiquette, as is necessary, for spirit and star.—
“Here the view is free, the spirit elevated.”—But there is a reverse kind of person who is also on the heights and also has a free view—but who looks down.
What is noble? What does the word “noble” still mean to us nowadays? What reveals the noble human being, how do people recognize him, under this heavy, oppressive sky at the beginning of the rule of the rabble, which is making everything opaque and leaden?—It is not the actions that prove him—actions are always ambiguous, always inscrutable—; nor is it the “works.” Among artists and scholars today we find a sufficient number of those who through their works reveal how a profound desire for what is noble drives them: but this very need for what is noble is fundamentally different from the needs of the noble soul itself and is really the eloquent and dangerous indication that such a soul is lacking. It’s not the works; it’s the belief which decides here, which here establishes the order of rank, to take up once more an old religious formula with a new and more profound meaning: some basic certainty that a noble soul has about itself, something that does not allow itself to be sought out or found or perhaps even to be lost. The noble soul has reverence for itself.—
There are human beings who have spirit in an inevitable way. They may toss and turn as they wish and hold their hands in front of their tell-tale eyes (—as if the hand were not a giveaway!—): finally it always comes out that they have something they are hiding, that is, spirit. One of the most sophisticated ways to deceive, at least for as long as possible, and to present oneself successfully as stupider than one is—what in common life is often as desirable as an umbrella—is called enthusiasm, including what belongs with it, for example, virtue. For, as Galiani, who must have known, says: vertu est enthousiasme [virtue is enthusiasm].
In the writings of a hermit we always hear something of the echo of a wasteland, something of the whispers and the timid gazing around of isolation; from his strongest words, even from his crying out, still resounds a new and more dangerous kind of silence, of concealment. Whoever has sat down, year in and year out, day and night, alone in an intimate dispute and conversation with his soul, whoever has become a cave bear or digger for treasure or guardian of treasure and dragon in his own cavern—it can be a labyrinth but also a gold mine—such a man’s very ideas finally take on a distinct twilight colouring and smell as much of mould as they do of profundity, something uncommunicative and reluctant, which blows cold wind over everyone passing by. The hermit does not believe that a philosopher—assuming that a philosopher has always first been a hermit—has ever expressed his real and final opinions in his books. Don’t people write books expressly to hide what they have stored inside them?—In fact, he will have doubts whether a philosopher could generally have “real and final” opinions, whether in his case behind every cave there does not lie, and must lie, an even deeper cavern—a more comprehensive, stranger, richer world beyond the surface, an abyss behind every ground, under every “foundation.” Every philosophy is a foreground philosophy—that is the judgment of a hermit: “There is something arbitrary about the fact that he remained here, looked back, and looked around, that at this point set his shovel aside and did not dig more deeply—there is also something suspicious about it.” Every philosophy also hides a philosophy; every opinion is also a hiding place, every word is also a mask.
Every deep thinker is more afraid of being understood than of being misunderstood. In the latter case, perhaps his vanity suffers, but the former hurts his heart, his sympathy, which always says, “Alas, why do you want to have it as hard as I did?”
Man, a multifaceted, lying, artificial, and impenetrable animal, who spooks other animals less by his power than by his cunning and intelligence, has invented good conscience in order to enjoy his own soul for once as something simple; and all of morality is a long spirited falsification, thanks to which it’s at all possible to enjoy looking at the soul. From this point of view, perhaps much more belongs to the idea of “art” than people commonly believe.
A philosopher: that is a man who constantly experiences, sees, hears, suspects, hopes, and dreams extraordinary things; who is struck by his very own thoughts as if from outside, as if from above and below, as if they are events and lightning strikes tailor-made for him; who is himself perhaps a storm which moves along pregnant with new lightning flashes; a fateful man, around whom things always rumble and mutter and gape and proceed mysteriously. A philosopher: alas, a being that often runs away from himself, is often afraid of himself—but that is too curious not to “come back to himself” again and again. . . .
A man who says, “That pleases me. I take that for my own and will protect it and defend it against everyone,” a man who can lead a cause, put a decision into effect, remain true to an idea, hold on to a woman, punish and cast down an insolent person, a man who has his anger and his sword and to whom the weak, the suffering, the distressed, and even the animals are happy to go and belong to by nature—in short, a man who is naturally a master—when such a man has pity, well, this pity is worth something! But what is there in the pity of those who suffer! Or even of those who preach pity! Today in almost all of Europe there is a pathological susceptibility and sensitivity to pain, as well as a nasty lack of restraint in complaining, a mollycoddling, which likes to dress itself up with religion and philosophical bits and pieces as something loftier—there is a formal culture of suffering. In my view, the unmanliness of what is christened “pity” in such enthusiastic circles is what always strikes the eye first.—We must excommunicate this latest form of bad taste, powerfully and thoroughly; and finally I wish that people would set against their hearts and throats the good amulet “gai saber,”—“gay science”, to clarify this matter for the Germans.
The Olympian vice.—In spite of that philosopher who, as a genuine Englishman, tried to make laughing a defamation of character among all thinking men—“Laughter is a serious infirmity of human nature, which every thinking man will strive to overcome” (Hobbes)—I would really allow myself to order the ranks of philosophers according to the rank of their laughter—right up to those who are capable of golden laughter. And assuming that the gods also practise philosophy, a fact which many conclusions have already driven me to—I don’t doubt that in the process they also know how to laugh in a superhuman and new way—and at the expense of all serious things! Gods delight in making fun: even where sacred actions are concerned, it seems they cannot stop laughing.
The genius of the heart, as that great hidden presence possesses it, the tempter-god and born pied piper of the conscience, whose voice knows how to climb down into the underworld of every soul, who does not say a word or cast a glance in which there does not lie some concern with and trace of temptation, whose mastery includes the fact that he understands how to seem—and not what he is, but what for those who follow him is one more compulsion to press themselves always closer to him, to follow him ever more inwardly and completely:—that genius of the heart who makes all noise and self-satisfaction fall silent and teaches it to listen, who smoothes out the rough souls and gives them a new desire to taste,—to lie still as a mirror so that the deep heaven reflects itself in them—; the genius of the heart who teaches the foolish and over-hasty hand to hesitate and reach out more delicately; who senses the hidden and forgotten treasure, the drop of goodness and sweet spirituality under the thick cloudy ice and is a divining rod for every grain of gold that has lain buried a long time in a dungeon crammed with mud and sand; the genius of the heart, at whose touch everyone goes forward richer, not divinely gifted and surprised, not as if delighted and oppressed with some foreign good, but richer in his own self, newer to himself than previously, broken open, blown upon and sounded out by a thawing wind, more uncertain perhaps, more tender, more fragile, more broken, but full of hopes that as yet have no names, full of new will and flowing, full of new irritations and opposing currents . . . But what am I doing, my friends? Whom am I speaking to you about? Have I forgotten myself so much that I have not once named him to you? Unless you have already guessed for yourselves who this questionable spirit and god is who wants to be praised in such a way. For just as things go with anyone who from the time he walked on childish legs has always been on the move and in alien territory, so many strange and not un-dangerous spirits have crossed my path, too, above all the one I have just been speaking about, who has come again and again, namely, no less a spirit than the god Dionysus, that enormously ambiguous and tempter god, to whom in earlier times, as you know, I offered up my first born, in all secrecy and reverence—as the last person, so I thought, who had offered a sacrifice to him: for I found no one who understood what I was doing then.7 Meanwhile I learned a great deal, much too much, about the philosophy of this god, and, as mentioned, from mouth to mouth—I, the last disciple and initiate of the god Dionysus: and perhaps I can at last begin to give you, my friends, a little taste of this philosophy, as much as I am permitted? In a hushed voice, as is reasonable, for this concerns a number of things that are secret, new, strange, odd, and mysterious. Even the fact that Dionysus is a philosopher and that the gods also carry on philosophy seems to me a novelty that is not harmless and that perhaps might excite mistrust precisely among philosophers—among you, my friends it has less against it, although it could be that it comes too late and not at the right moment: for it has been revealed to me that nowadays you are not happy to believe in god and gods. Also perhaps the fact that in my explanation I must proceed with more candour than is always pleasing to the strict habits of your ears? Certainly the god under discussion went further, very much further, in conversations like this and was always several steps ahead of me . . . In fact, if it were permitted, I would, following human practices, attach to him beautifully solemn names of splendour and virtue; I would have to lavish a great deal of praise on him for his courage as an explorer and discoverer, for his daring honesty, truthfulness, and love of wisdom. But such a god has no idea how to begin with all this venerable rubbish and pageantry. “Keep that,” he would say, “for yourself and people like you and anyone else who needs it! I have no reason to cover my nakedness!”—Do people sense that this type of divinity and philosopher perhaps lacks shame? He said it this way once, “In some circumstances, I love human beings”—and in saying that, he was alluding to Ariadne, who was present—”for me a human being is a pleasant, brave, inventive animal that has no equal on earth; it finds the right path even in every labyrinth.8 I like him: I often reflect how I could bring him further forwards and make him stronger, more evil, and more profound than he is.”—”Stronger, more evil, and more profound?” I asked shocked. “Yes,” he said once more, “stronger, more evil, and more profound, also more beautiful”—and with that the tempter god smiled with his halcyon smile, as if he had just uttered an enchanting compliment. We see here also that it is not just shame this divinity lacks—; and in general there are good reasons to suppose that in some things the gods collectively could learn from us human beings. We human beings are—more human. . .
Alas, what are you then, my written and painted thoughts! It’s not so long ago that you were still so colourful, young, and malicious, full of stings and secret seasonings, that you made me sneeze and laugh.—And now? You have already stripped off your novelty and some of you, I fear, are ready to become truths: you already look so immortal, so heartbreakingly honest, so boring! And was it ever different? What things we transcribe in our writing and painting, we mandarins with a Chinese brush, we immortalizers of things which let themselves be written—what are the only things we are capable of painting? Alas, only what is about to fade and is beginning to lose its fragrance! Alas, only storms which are worn out and withdrawing and old yellow feelings! Alas, only birds which have exhausted themselves flying and lost their way and now let themselves be caught by hand—by our hand! We immortalize what can no longer live and fly, only tired and crumbling things! And it is only your afternoon, my written and painted thoughts, for which I alone have colours, many colours perhaps, many colourful caresses and fifty yellows and browns and greens and reds:—but no one will sense from me how you looked in your dawn, you sudden sparks and miracles of my solitude, you, my old loved ones—my wicked thoughts!
1Quintus Horatius Flaccus (65-8 BC) an important poet in classical Rome. [Back to Text]
2The 1900 German edition adds here: “(I don’t dare mention greater names, but I have them in mind). [Back to Text]
3The German edition of 1900 adds after the words “incurable hearts” the parenthetic comment: “(the cynicism of Hamlet, the case of Galiani).” [Back to Text]
4Raphael (1483-1520): major Italian painter of the Renaissance. [Back to Text]
5Nietzsche uses Greek letters here: καιρός. [Back to Text]
6Harpies: mythological winged monsters who steal food. [Back to Text]
7The “first work” Nietzsche is referring to is his Birth of Tragedy, published in 1872, in which he proposes the struggle between the Apollonian and Dionysian. [Back to Text]
8Ariadne: in Greek mythology the daughter of Minos, king of Crete. She helped Theseus kill the Minotaur in the Labyrinth and escaped with him. When Theseus abandoned Ariadne, Dionysus fell in love with her. [Back to Text]